Written By: Salvatore Shaw and Danny Garas, Summer Student
As the weather in Toronto begins to warm up, we begin to see more and more motorcycles on our roads and highways.
In 2013, the Globe and Mail reported that motorcyclists are “at least 15 times more likely to be involved in a crash than automobile drivers.”
In November of 2017, the Toronto Sun also reported a frightening statistic – “motorcycles account for about 10% of motor vehicle deaths while making up only 2% of traffic on the roads.” Even more worrisome is that injuries from motorcycle collisions are “10 times as severe as those resulting from collisions involving cars.”
TIPS FOR RIDERS
In Ontario, helmets are mandatory. The reason is that helmets lower the likelihood of a rider suffering a concussion or critical head or neck injury.
Riders want to make sure that they wear a proper-fitted helmet at all times when riding.
Sizing of your helmet will vary depending on the brand. After measuring your head for a properly-sized helmet, you will notice that the first time you wear your helmet it will be slightly tight. This is normal, as long as it is not causing you any pain. After wearing the helmet for 30 minutes and experiencing no issues, you’re ready to ride!
Helmet lifespan: most people recommend that used helmets be replaced every five years (or seven years from production), assuming the helmet has not degraded in the sunlight. Of course, if the helmet has either been dropped or impacted in a previous fall/accident, the lifespan of the helmet will be shorter.
Helmet requirements can be found under regulation 610 of the HTA. There are very limited exceptions.
Riders must equip their motorcycle with at least two lights – a white light on the front and a red light on the back of the motorcycle. Motorcycles with a sidecar must carry three lights: two on the front and one on the back.
When riding, it is recommended that you wear “light and bright colored outerwear.” Riders should refrain from wearing darker colours such as dark purple, grey, and black.
It’s not just about what you’re wearing, the colour of the motorcycle is also important! Researchers from the University of Kentucky, for example, determined that of all collisions where a driver collided with a rider due to failure to observe the motorcyclist, 36% of those motorcycles were black.
In addition, the Ministry of Transportation recommends improving visibility by adding reflective tape to your helmet, clothing, and motorcycle. This is especially helpful if riding at night!
Other Tips for Riders
- Check the weather before going out.
- On roads where there are more than two lanes, it is always recommended to pass motorists on the left side. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation warns that “passing on the right can be more dangerous.”Part of the reason is that when passing on the left side, you are on the driver’s side (meaning a higher chance that they see you in their blind spot).
- When riding a motorcycle, “lane sharing, splitting and filtering are prohibited”…because it’s dangerous.
· When riding in groups, maintain a good amount of distance between each rider.
- Avoid riding too close to motorists or riding in their blind spots.
- Avoid riding on gravel roads or roads that are in poor conditions and bumpy. Drivers can more easily stabilize their vehicle after hitting a bump in the road, the same cannot be said for riders!
TIPS FOR DRIVERS: HOW MOTORISTS CAN HELP AVOID COLLISIONS WITH MOTORCYCLISTS
Share the Road
For some reason, motorists seem to get nervous when they spot a motorcyclist. Drivers need to remember that if a collision takes place between them and a motorcyclist, the rider is more likely to be injured. For this reason, extra caution must be displayed when driving around motorcyclists.
Dooring: Be careful when opening the door on the driver’s side. It won’t be fun for a rider if they unexpectedly come into contact with your vehicle door.
Don’t drive while distracted. Since motorcycles are much smaller than other vehicles, they are much harder to see. Don’t be glancing down at your phone or driving distracted, because this will decrease your likelihood of seeing a motorcyclist and impair your ability to react.
Check your blind spots whenever you are changing lanes or completing a turn.
INJURED IN A MOTORCYCLE COLLISION?
Sometimes, even the most cautious riders may be involved in a collision.
 Fatal Two-Vehicle Motorcycle Crashes, U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, September 2007, https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/810834 [PDF].
 Why I don’t ride motorcycles – as much – any more, the Globe and Mail, June 27, 2013, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/culture/commuting/why-i-dont-ride-motorcycles-as-much-any-more/article12834643/.
 Motorcycles are more dangerous than ever: Ontario study, Toronto Sun, November 20, 2017, https://torontosun.com/news/provincial/motorcycles-are-more-dangerous-than-ever-ontario-study.
 Highway Traffic Act, RSO 1990 c H.8, at section 104 [HTA].
 How to Choose the Safest Motorcycle Helmet 2020, supra note 8.
 Motorcycle Helmet Size Guide – How to Measure & Fit the Right Helmet, Motosport, June 2, 2021, https://www.motosport.com/blog/motorcycle-helmet-size-guide-how-to-measure-fit-the-right-helmet.
 How to size and buy a motorcycle helmet, RevZilla, May 25, 2019, Andy Greaser, https://www.revzilla.com/common-tread/how-to-buy-and-size-a-motorcycle-helmet.
 Do Motorcycle Helmets Have an Expiry Date?, New Touring Rider, May 30, 2021, https://newtouringrider.com/do-motorcycle-helmets-have-an-expiry-date/; Lifespan of a Motorcycle Helmet, Crampbuster, May 1, 2017, https://www.crampbuster.com/motorcycle-helmet-lifespan/#:~:text=The%20industry%20standard%20states%20that,it%2C%20time%20to%20trash%20it; How to Choose the Safest Motorcycle Helmet 2020, Motorcycle Legal Foundation, March 24, 2020, https://www.motorcyclelegalfoundation.com/the-safest-motorcycle-helmet-you-can-buy/ [How to Choose the Safest Motorcycle Helmet 2020].
 Safety Helmets, RRO 1990, Regulation 610 (under HTA, RSO 1990 c H 8).
 HTA, supra note 5 at section 62(2).
 Ibid at section 62(3).
 Six ways of being visible when riding a motorcycle, KimpexNews, June 1, 2018, https://blog.kimpex.com/six-ways-of-being-visible-when-riding-a-motorcycle.
 Causes and Countermeasures Related to Motorcycle Crashes, University of Kentucky: College of Engineering, Kentucky Transportation Centre, March 2011, https://uknowledge.uky.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.ca/&httpsredir=1&article=1028&context=ktc_researchreports [PDF].
 Motorcycle Safety, Ministry of Transportation, Ontario, http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/motorcycle-safety.shtml [Motorcycle Safety].
 The Official Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Driver’s Handbook: Changing Positions, Updated on May 8, 2019, https://www.ontario.ca/document/official-mto-drivers-handbook/changing-positions.
 Motorcycle Safety, supra note 15.
 Picture taken from Motorcycle Lane Splitting, Motorcycle Legal Foundation, September 30, 2019, https://www.motorcyclelegalfoundation.com/motorcycle-lane-splitting-guidelines/.
 Motorcycle Safety, supra note 15.
 Picture taken from Group Riding Best Practices, Rider Magazine, Jenny Smith, October 31, 2019, https://ridermagazine.com/2019/10/31/group-riding-best-practices/.
 Picture taken from Motorcycle Safety, supra note 15.
 Sharing the road with other users, Sharing the road with motorcycles and limited-speed motorcycles, Ministry of Transportation Ontario, Updated on March 20, 2020 https://www.ontario.ca/document/official-mto-drivers-handbook/sharing-road-other-road-users#section-1.
 Do Motorcycles Brake Faster Than Cars?, Brake Experts, https://brakeexperts.com/do-motorcycles-brake-faster-than-cars/.